Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nationals - beforehand

Photo by Meeko

The Squids traveled to Columbus Ohio for 4 days of the highest level of ultimate college has to offer. I left Wednesday night and got back Tuesday morning so that's a pretty nice vacation right in the middle of Spring quarter. What a trip.

I apologize to my thousands of loyal readers for taking so long to write about this; after Nationals, all I could really focus on was graduating (we all know that's not true.) Additionally I'm sorry that this recap isn't going to have many specific details - I used to have a photographic (or videographic) memory for what happened during games but I have seemed to have lost some of that now that I am actually playing a lot. I guess as a sideline player, its easy to give some focus up to being a fan and thinking about big plays, but as a starter your focus is devoted to the next point. Thus, what I write here is going to be less Costas and Content and more Gestalt and Gonzo.

My flight was a red eye. Boy did that suck. Few snacks, little sleep, and zero aisle seats even though I requested them when I bought my ticket - apparently you have to ask a human to be guaranteed a particular seat. I got to our rooms at the Red Roof Inn around 8am Thursday feeling like shit.

I was awoken from my floor nap by my teammates playing "Don't wake up Pumba" with Cheerios. They did happen to wake me. With Cheerios.

People were gonna walk over to the field site to have a look around and feel it out. I go, but not before I pick up some food. It seems that all I have eaten for the last however many million hours I'd been in airports, the only thing I'd had to eat was dried fruit and processed carbohydrates (chips, pretzels) so I decided to go big on the protein: sliced turkey breast, salami, and an entire rotisserie chicken. I kid you not, I sucked every delicious piece of meat off that carcass over the 20 minute walk.

We threw around and we all looked sloppy. Hopefully it was the jet lag. The first game was early the next day so we planned a team meeting right after the last flight got in with hopes of actually getting good sleep. Waiting for them, I decided to go for a run to loosen up. Running with music or with a partner can be great for getting your mind off the running but running solo in perfect weather at dusk was just what I needed to clear my head and meditate a little and take a physical inventory (Z.T.s 5/19/03) . I ran along the river and into OSU's massive campus, I try to sneak into the football stadium but they keep that place pretty well locked up. The legs are feeling good; a little tightness in the hips was disconcerting, but my ankles - which I was really worried about - gave me few problems after I was warmed up.

The thing I meditated most on was jitters. Our team, like any other, experiences wide ranges of exhibited skill game to game and point to point and jitters is one of the the largest reasons why we play below our expected level. These jitters appear at the beginning of a tournament or the beginning of a day. I really like how Coach Stuart made a point of acknowledging jitters before the start of regionals and the night before our first game in Columbus, but I think we should do a lot more. One of the most consistent things I can remember about my 4 years is how we've consistently been effected by early jitters (but this observation for another post). On this run I tried to do some visualization of what it was gonna be like to receive the first pull the next day, ran over play calls in my head, practiced calling "disc space" (or "dispace"), and thought about the curious sensation of butterflies in my stomach. The 40 yard curving forehand looked beautiful in my mind and I was ready.

I awoke as I always do before tournament days: 20 minutes before my 6am alarm. I could tell, even in the early morning, that the day was going to be a hot one and tried to find a store that would sell ice but nothing opened until 7:30 when we would be at the fields. I resigned myself to a McDonald's breakfast, a latte from the hotel lobby, stretching and anticipation. I go back to the rooms and help wake people up. Nothing particular happens that morning, we all pack our bags for the day and go downstairs. We joke a little but its pretty clear what everyone is thinking intensely about. The cars fill, the doors close, and we leave for the fields.

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